Criminal Justice II (2009)
Don't you want to know who I'm running it for?
Criminal Justice II (2009)
Don't you want to know who I'm running it for?
Time is kind to Doctor Who. We grow to love what's bad about it. Sometimes a story needs a second viewing to appreciate. Once we're no longer burdened with the weight of our own expectations, we can view it for what it was and not what we expected it to be. That's a lot of what this series ten rewatch has been all about- reevaluating something that didn't get its proper go the first time 'round. I have said before that by this point in the series, I had become wary of Steven Moffat's arcs. His capital with my suspension of disbelief was a bit spent. New mysteries and plot points were things of which to feel wary.
Now that the Moffat era has come and gone, my attitude is a little different. Without expectation or feelings of dread, I've begun to see how Moffat was in fact writing a bit of a swan song both for himself and Peter Capaldi, and it starts here. It's ironic then that "Extremis," is the episode of which I have most been dreading. I don't remember very fond memories of it, or the three-part episode arc it creates. If you hadn't noticed, I dragged my feet getting around to watching this one. Having had a bad week, I found myself thinking "I could really go for some Doctor Who." So I queued up "Extremis," and discovered it was exactly what the Doctor ordered.
When we last left off with the Doctor he had revealed that he was still blind after his spacesuit mishap in "Oxygen." Seeing as the theme of this review so far has been about preconceived notions or prejudices, I was forced to face my own shitty ableism. When I first saw this blind Doctor storyline, I didn't like it. I didn't like it when they blinded Neo in "The Matrix Revolutions," either. And so yeah, I did a bit of soul searching and realised I had some dumb attitudes toward it. I may as well have pulled a Peter Davison and said "If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for non-blind people who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for." In other words, it was rubbish. A blind Doctor story is a genuine treat that both Moffat and Capaldi were up to the task of telling.
Right away we are treated with one of my favourite tricks in cinema, where the opening shot gives away a huge plot point. We see a black and green screen a là the Matrix (Hey!) that shows us some sort of program or file named Extremis downloading. It reminds me of David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," where the main character lies down to sleep in a bed in which she would later wake up. It's a good sign when Doctor Who can remind you of one of cinema's most beloved auteurs. The auteur qualities of this episode don't stop with the intro, as much of Daniel Nettheim's direction is creative and controlled.
Interspersed with the main plot of the storyline are bits about the vault in which Missy has found herself. Upon my first view, I remember being impressed that Moffat didn't draw out the big reveal of the vault and that he was willing to tackle it mid-series. I find Moffat's storylines more gratifying when he writes them in service of a theme or character and less to a cliffhanger. This is Moffat writing with restraint and I think it's all the better for it. I also found myself more receptive to the vault, or "Quantum Fold Chamber," as they call it. The concept of a planet of executioners is classic Doctor Who. It reminds me of places like the planet Necros from "Revelation of the Daleks," where the entire planet is dedicated to death in some manner. It's a silly enough concept for Futurama to make fun of, but also very Doctor Who.
Over the course of the episode, we learn that Missy is to be put to death for her Various Crimes™. It harkens back to the Eighth Doctor movie when the Seventh Doctor has been tasked with bringing the Master's remains back to Gallifrey, only this time it's executed better. For starters, the Daleks aren't doing anything as absurd as holding a trial. For Some Reason™, only a fellow Time Lord is allowed to pull the lever. I guess for a planet of executioners, the only thing they're not allowed to do is flip the actual lever that, you know, executes someone. It makes you wonder what they would have done if the Doctor had said no. They already stated that Time Lords are in short supply, they can't exactly kill him. The way the execution is supposed to play out would entail the Doctor pulling the lever on a mechanism. The mechanism would simultaneously stop both of Missy's hearts and all three of her brain stems. The remains would then be maintained within a vault that must be kept closed for 1000 years, in case of any "relapses." Of all of Moffat's reveals, that might actually be one of the coolest.
Of course, the Doctor can't resist Missy's pleas for help. She promises to go good and makes a good show of it. You almost believe her if it weren't for all of her Various Crimes™. Regardless, we the viewer know the Doctor would never actually pull the executioner's lever. I mean, unless Chibnall is writing, then who the hell knows? As it turns out, the Doctor has a better plan than my "Just don't do it," which would probably end in some sort of scuffle or incarceration. Instead, the Doctor monkeys with the machine using his sonic screwdriver. Using their own wording against them, the Doctor agrees to watch Missy's body for 1000 years. They never stipulated whether she was alive or dead. Whether or not she's lying about being his friend, she's not wrong, they are friends.
The Doctor intimidates the executioners in a bit of a tired fashion employed far too often in the Moffat era. The Doctor simply encourages them to look up how many deaths there are attributed to his name. I guess he's been busy since the Eleventh Doctor spent so much time erasing his history. I guess the Twelfth Doctor has a powerful bloodlust that we'll hopefully someday hear play out in a Big Finish miniseries. You heard it here first, people, the Twelfth Doctor confirmed for a serial killer. While I do find it a bit macabre to brag about all of the people who have met a smokey demise at his feet, I could see the Doctor rationalising it as a tool that works better than having to actually kill people. And as he says in a confessional scene with Missy- the memories are so much worse in the dark.
Speaking of Big Finish and being in the dark, I found myself slightly amused at Nardole having to describe everything for the Doctor. It was like listening to Big Finish- "Look Doctor, it's a bright light!" "Oh look, it's the Pope!" Along with the Twelfth Doctor Serial Killer spin-off, I look forward to the Blindth Doctor Chronicles. Should be good stuff! As Nardole said, the Pope is here, in Bill's bedroom! In classic Moffat era shenanigans, the Doctor has shown up on date night. Only instead of telling Clara her face and clothes are jacked up, he's telling Bill she's great and to go get laid. It's almost perfect except I do take a bit of exception to the show making light of the fact that a lot of gays feel pressure from religion to be straight. I get that it's a joke that the moment Penny acquiesces to Bill's advances, the Pope bursts in, but it's also kinda not funny. I'm not saying it's egregious, I'm just saying Moffat posted cringe.
The Doctor has been brought to the Vatican after a slew of people have committed suicide after reading a book called "Veritas." Afraid to read the book themselves, the clergy have appointed the Doctor with the task of deciphering its mysteries. Of course, the Doctor can't read, so he requires the use of a bit of Time Lord tech to temporarily give him sight again, if for no other reason than to read even a portion of the text. The device itself is one of the weaker props from the production team. It looked and sounded like it was made from cheap hollow plastic. I feel like maybe some metallic sound effects or even some weight to the device would have gone a long way toward selling the prop as a piece of advanced alien tech. Having no plans of letting either Bill or Nardole actually read the text, the Doctor sends them off to check on the body of a missing Vatican translator. After sending an Extremis email to some of the top organisations around the world, the translator shoots himself, giving the Doctor a good reason to lose Bill and Nardole.
I must say, mixing Doctor Who and suicide is a surprisingly heavy subject matter, but I don't think it ever drifts too far into darkness. Instead, they use it to leverage a bit of tension within the audience. I'm reminded of the "Funniest Joke in the World" sketch by Monty Python or the lullaby from Chuck Palahniuk's "Lullaby." The concept of a string of words that could prove deadly is a type of contagion that hits a bit different after covid. It evokes the same type of fears as a zombie invasion or assimilation by the Borg, both of which prey on real-world fears that outside influences can change who we are fundamentally. It's the same fear we experience when a cult commits mass suicide. All a person had to do was say the right words, and it's Jonestown. The fact that it happens to religious clergy and scientists both really drives these concepts home.
While the Doctor straps himself in for a bit of extreme reading, Nardole and Bill find a portal to a room projecting many other portals. One leads to the Pentagon, one leads to CERN. While at CERN, Bill and Nardole discover a team of scientists drunkenly celebrating their final moments of life. Having read the Extremis email, they all plan to blow themselves up with some of the most cartoonish bombs I have ever seen. Evidently, when you're a scientist, you can source Yosemite Sam grade dynamite at a moment's notice. After trying to talk the scientists out of their decision to die, the scientists show Bill and Nardole how the world is not what it seems. After being unable to name a random number different from one another, our two heroes begin to question the validity of their own existence. No matter how perfect a simulation they're in, no computer is capable of being completely random, as shown in the numbers exercise.
Before the Doctor can finish reading, a group of mummified monks begin advancing on him. Using the sonic, the Doctor cuts the lights and makes a break for it. I found myself slightly disappointed by this moment as it could have been a really cool opportunity to do some tricks with the lighting. The Doctor uses his sonic to undo the binds on his chair and escape, which left me asking- where was the light from the sonic screwdriver? This isn't really me pointing out a plot hole. That would be more like me asking why the Doctor strapped himself in if he could just sonic his way out of the chair. Yeah, you could explain it away with "The sonic screwdriver has dark mode," or maybe it was his sonic sunglasses, but what I'm getting at is, why not play with the lighting a little bit? How cool would that look to have a kind of strobe light effect where you see a green glow and then maybe a blue glow illuminating frozen moments of the Doctor's escape? Think lightsaber battles in the dark, illuminating the faces of two fighters. In an episode of impressive direction and camera work, this seemed like a missed opportunity.
Bill and Nardole having freshly fled from certain doom at CERN, are back in the portal room. At this point, they realise that the portals aren't portals, but projections of false realities. After reaching beyond the projection, Nardole's hand goes 3-D wire mesh revealing him to be a hologram. To both of their horror, his body begins to pixelate until it destroys him completely. Bill enters another portal and finds the Doctor in the Oval Office of the White House, or rather a projection of the Oval Office. The President is dead in his chair, having taken a handful of pills. The Doctor, having listened to a text to audio dictation of Veritas, the doctor tells the story of a demon from another world that wanted to take over the real world, so he creates a shadow world full of shadow people that can be used to run simulations. Before Bill can react, she bursts into pixels at the hands of a Monk. The Monk informs the Doctor that they have killed him countless times within the simulation and that each time has given them valuable information. It echoes a lot with "Heaven Sent," wherein the Doctor has a hellacious task ahead of him, requiring him to die over and over until he finds a way out.
The Monks' one fatal flaw is that their simulation was perhaps too good. They recreated the Doctor so well, that even his copy contains a bit of his brilliance. The Doctor, having been recording his entire experience within the simulation on his sonic sunglasses. Along with a perfect Doctor, they also supplied him with actual wifi enabling him to alert the real-world Doctor to the existence of the Monks. No longer will they be allowed to operate in secret. With the Monks defeated for this round, the recording ends revealing the entire episode having been a recording the real Doctor was watching. Realising what he is up against, the Doctor tells Bill to go out on that date with Penny, for real this time. She should seize the moment because soon they may be in great danger. It is at this moment that the Doctor finds himself standing outside the vault telling Missy that he is worried he can't save his friends when he himself is lost in the dark.
Usually, this type of episode upsets me. I find alternate universes and parallel dimensions to be a bit tedious. It's a personal taste thing. I like my stories in the main timeline. I like my Marvel in the 616 universe, thank you very much. But for some reason, this episode doesn't bother me in that way. I think it's because I appreciate that the story is that the Doctor is essentially as real as we allow him to be in our hearts. I know right? Kind of silly. But in its way, I believe this episode is a celebration of the Doctor as a fictional character. The essence of the Doctor is real enough to be powerful. That's a really sweet sentiment when you stop and consider it. I also like that it does actually affect the overall storyline. It's not just a dimension where the consequences don't matter. It does the parallel universe in a way that doesn't feel aimless. We're not just watching the crew of the Voyager dissolve into jelly because it's interesting to see how they react. It carries weight because the end has an impact on the story.
Another great element of "Extremis," is that we get to explore Nardole more. We learn that he was sent by River Song to keep tabs on the Doctor. It's a good enough explanation, though I doubt Nardole would need to read the words of River's diary to keep the Doctor from executing Missy. But who knows, maybe she worried he would make poor decisions in the wake of her death. The whole River timeline is kind of a mess, this is nothing new. I will say that Nardole's little badass speech to Bill fell a bit flat for me. I know he's not actually supposed to come off as badass because let's be real, Matt Lucas has the ferocity of a lemon sherbert, but the comedy just fell flat for me. That's subjective though, and merely my own take. Regardless, it was good to see him getting more screen time and a bit of backstory.
A lot of "Extremis," works for me. I think a lot of this stems from the fact that it's a simple story. It doesn't overcomplicate itself. Its placement in the middle of the series allows it room to breathe while setting up intrigue for what's to come. It took me from a feeling of apprehension to a feeling of excitement for the next episode. It's the proof of concept that sometimes all Doctor Who needs is a bit of time and space.
Watch "The Worst Thing Moffat Did to Doctor Who (Video Essay)" on YouTube
Not to be Doctor Who on main but I think one of the only characterization missteps Russell T Davies made was establishing that The Master Used To Be An Okay Person Actually and THATS Why It’s Been Heavily Implied For Years That The Master and The Doctor Used To Be a Thing. Imo it’s both way funnier and also more in character if the Master was always like that and the Doctor just had waaaaay lower standards of morality in romantic partners when they were younger
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the doctor: is willing to attack a whole dalek fleet, unarmed and unprepared, to save rose
the doctor: sends rose home in the tardis as an emergency protocol, leaving him without escape and left to die, just so she isn’t stranded and abandoned beside him
the doctor: wakes up from his regeneration sleep early because rose called for help
the doctor: “that name keeps me fighting”
the doctor: “but if i believe in one thing, just one thing, it’s her”
the doctor: “im burning up a sun, just to say goodbye”
moffats doctor: willingly abandons rose (and mickey) to die stranded on a ship thousands of years from home and happily anticipates the idea of living a slow life until, presumably, humans invent advanced space travel because he’s infatuated with a stranger
listen,, the way m*ffat hated rose is so embarrassing
also m.offat created river song then made her the doctor’s wife & suddenly that’s all she’s used for.
this blog supports m*ffat hate
SLYTHERIN: "Everybody knows that everybody dies and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever, for one moment, accepts it." –Steven Moffat (River Song: Doctor Who: Forest of the Dead)
every single day i think about the darker timeline where moffat wrote s1-s4 of doctor who
Me who already knows Moffat doesn't know how to write an ending when I get sherlocked with the final epsiode of Dracula
‘The Devil’s Hour’: Jessica Raine, Peter Capaldi To Headline Amazon Thriller Series
EXCLUSIVE: Patrick Melrose actress Jessica Raine and Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi have been cast as the leads in Amazon’s The Devil’s Hour, the latest series from Sherlock and Dracula producer Hartswood Films.
From rising British writer Tom Moran, The Devil’s Hour is a UK original that tells the story of Lucy Chambers (Raine), a woman who wakes up every night at exactly 3.33AM, in the middle of the so-called devil’s hour between 3AM and 4AM.
Lucy Chambers’ eight-year-old son is withdrawn and emotionless. Her mother speaks to empty chairs. Her house is haunted by the echoes of a life that isn’t her own. Now, when her name is inexplicably connected to a string of brutal murders in the area, the answers that have evaded her all these years will finally come into focus.
Capaldi features in the six-part series as a reclusive nomad, driven by a murderous obsession. He becomes the prime target of a police manhunt led by compassionate detective Ravi Dhillon, played by Nikesh Patel, who recently featured in HBO Max/BBC Three comedy Starstruck.
Other cast includes Meera Syal (Yesterday), Alex Ferns (Chernobyl), Phil Dunster (Ted Lasso), Barbara Marten (Sanctuary), Thomas Dominique (Blood Drive), Rhiannon Harper-Rafferty (The Donmar Warehouse’s All-Female Shakespeare Trilogy), John Alastair (Swimming with Men), Sandra Huggett (Coronation Street) and newcomer Benjamin Chivers.
The Devil’s Hour is now filming in London and Farnborough Studios. Executive producers are Hartswood bosses Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue, and Moran. Johnny Allan is set as the director after helming episodes of Netflix’s The Irregulars.
Moffat: gallifrey falls no more
Chibnall: no! Gallifrey falls more.
“no i cant tell the future i just work there” you are so stupid and i love you
In 200,000 AD The human race should be in its 4th Great and Glorious Empire, but in one alternate timeline it is being artificially held back. The time traveling alien the Doctor (Doctor 9) and his companion named Rose discover that the answer may be found in Satellite five which provides over 600 channels of news and entertainment to Earth. In this possible future, people have chips implanted into their heads so they can download information directly into their brains. ("The Long Game" Doctor Who, TV)
suddenly seized by the need to write fem!johnlock fanfic
I'm watching Death in Heaven and idk if it was intentional, because I never pay attention to anything at all, tbh, but first the Cybermen turning people in their graves reminded me of the Master in the End of Time and then Missy being tied up like that reminded me of how the Doctor was restrained.
So, I started thinking about RTD and how he did away with Gallifrey so beautifully, only for Moffat to have the nerve to undo all of it, the end of the Time War, the entire journey that 9 and 10 went into, the very idea of the Doctor as the last of the Time Lords. Just... how full of yourself must you be that you spend so much of your run undoing what your predecessor did/doing things "better" instead of doing your own thing?
Also, unrelated: how many times did Clara pretend to be the Doctor?
at all times i am perilously close to deciding clara is my favorite character